Pumpkin Bars with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

October 29, 2009

Yesterday I decided to finish off my supply of canned pumpkin. I don't buy it very often so I had to use it or else run the risk of making it sit there staring at me for the rest of the year. These bars were fun to make and decorate so I was disappointed when my point and click camera refused to snap a decent picture without the orange appearing as an eye scorching neon. It is infuriating when you bake something so fabulous and bursting with lively colours and not be able to capture it on film. I spent hours trying to edit these. It got to the point when I kept seeing orange spots on the white areas of my computer screen. My apologies to anyone sensitive to bright, harsh colours. I thought about just writing this post without pictures but this is a food blog and I believe most will be able to see the potential behind the pics. :) As some of you may know, I don't like pumpkin. At least I didn't think I did until now. I believe that it is just pumpkin pie which turns me off. But who knows, maybe if I had a wonderful recipe that could change too. These bars were similar to a sheet cake but still had a faint 'chew' which kept them in the bar category. I added a lot of cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and ginger so the flavour was far from boring. What was also surprising was how moist they were! You know that feeling you sometimes get when you swallow a piece of cake or bar slice, when it feels like it is taking it's time and dragging it's crumbs all the way down your throat almost causing you to cough? These pumpkin bars won't try to kill that way. They may cause you to eat too many which may lead to sluggishness, but that is the extent of their danger.
Why are these so addicting? You can blame that on the salted caramel frosting! Wow, I could have easily sat down with a spoon and devoured the entire bowl without even spreading it on the bars. Thankfully my inner yoga guru kicked me in the head before I acted upon that impulse. The salty caramel was exquisite with the smooth sweetness of the pumpkin bars. I can't get enough of that salt/sweet combination when it comes to desserts! Please be sure to have people around if you decide to make these. Pull strangers off the street if need be. Just don't bake them if you are going to be alone for a long period of time.
Pumpkin Bars with Salted Caramel Frosting
( bar recipe adapted from Land O'Lakes)
*printer friendly Recipe*

Bar Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 EGGS
  • 3/4 cup of butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup KahlĂșa liqueur (or milk)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of all spice
  • 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. of ground cloves
  • 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin

Frosting Ingredients (recipe from Foodess.com)

  • 1 cup of sugar, divided in half
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp + 4 tsp cream
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tsp. of salt ( reduce the amount to 1tsp, if you prefer a sweeter caramel.)
  • 1 cup of butter ( room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • orange food colouring *optional*


Prepare the bars: Preheat the oven to 350F. and grease a 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter till soft and light. Add the sugar and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the KahlĂșa (or milk) and pumpkin and beat until smooth. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Pour the batter into pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the center springs back when lightly touched. Mine only took 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: Put 1/2 cup of sugar and water in saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir of you will get sugar crystals. Swirl the saucepan gently to distribute the heat. Cook until the mixture turns a medium to deep amber. Be careful not to overcook. As soon as it has reached the correct colour, remove from heat and slowly add the cream (careful - it will bubble up furiously). Stir until smooth and set aside.

Put the egg whites, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar in a double boiler. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture reaches 140 degrees. Transfer to bowl of standing mixer. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Add butter a bit at a time, and continue beating on medium. Reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and then caramel (you may need to gently rewarm the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds. Stop heating as soon as it softens enough to stir). Add food colouring (if using). Beat the mixture for 4-5 minutes.

Spread the frosting over the cooled pumpkin bars. Enjoy!


  1. Great bars ! I loooove salted caramel. And by the way, beautiful new banner :)

  2. Thank you Dolce! It was time to redecorate. :)

  3. I might be crazy, but I don't think you said how many eggs for the bars?? I'm gonna go check Land O' Lakes, but heads up! :)

  4. Hi, Anon.
    You're not crazy...I am. Sorry about that, it should be 2 EGGS.
    I blame the spiked eggnog on my neglectful writing at the time. :-D

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  5. Wish I would have seen the correction, got into middle of recipe before realizing recipe didn't mention amount of eggs, figured it out by another recipe.
    Frosting recipe says 1 cup sugar divided into 2 (1 cups). What does that even mean? When following the recipe we got a total of 1/2 c. of sugar into the frosting and it turned out way too salty. What a disappointment.

  6. Hi, Anon.
    Sorry for the mix-up! For the frosting, it should have read: 1 cup of sugar (divided in half.) As for the salt, I should have mentioned that I like my caramel on the salty side.
    Again, I apologize. When I began blogging, I was not the best at keeping notes on recipe alterations.


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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